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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Book: The Lure of Long Distances: Why We Run

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I’m heading out for my first run of 2012 and plan to do exactly the same run I’ve done the last two days. This is a training style my coach Gary calls a “double long weekend” where I do identical back to back runs with the goal of having the second one be stronger than the first. Today I’m doing my first “triple long weekend” ever where I do three in a row and depending on how I feel tomorrow I might do it again because I love this particular run.

Last night while the world was celebrating New Years Eve, Amy and I spent the evening doing one of our favorite things that we do together. I read a book and she knitted. Sometimes she reads, sometimes she knits, but we always play footsie while we just hang out quietly together, listen to some mellow music, pet our dogs, and relax together.

I read Robin Harvie’s The Lure of Long Distances: Why We Run. I think I have four copies of this – I bought it for myself on my Kindle, Amy gave me a copy for my birthday, and two other friends gave me copies of it. I started it in the bathtub yesterday just before dinner time (after my run) and finished it around 9pm mountain (so well before New Years Eve New York time).

If you are a runner of any distance, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s part biography (of Harvie’s running, including his effort to run what is known as the world’s hardest run – the Spartathlon), history of long distance running, storytelling about great runners, travelogue, and philosophical treatise. Some of the sections were dull – I just skimmed them – but everything about running, especially Harvie’s very personal introspection, was fascinating, inspiring, exciting, scary, and often easy to relate to.

As I begin 2012, I find my long distance running becoming an even more important part of my life than it has been. I love to run alone, with no music, and just experience the running. I much prefer trail running to street running but I do plenty of both. I still track my data and use it to guide my effort, but I find I care much less about my times and more about how I feel. I used to be satisfied with five hours a week of running – I’m now finding that I’m hungry for more like eight to ten and feel this amount increasing.

Combining my running with travel, work, writing, reading, being with Amy, and all the other things I do is hard. The travel has made it especially challenging and I’ve decided that I’m going to try some things differently this year, both around my travel and my running. One chronic mistake I make when travelling is breaking my routine and starting my “work day” too early. At home, I usually have from 5am to 9am to do my own thing, which includes a run. On the road, I’m often at a breakfast meeting by 7am. No more – I’m going to start my “on the road days” at 9am, no matter what’s going on. I’m also going to use the time to explore the cities I’m in – I love to run in cities as they are waking up, even in the dark.

It’s light outside and the trail beckons. I’m off to complete segment #3 of this weekend’s triple long. See ya.

Brad Feld’s Amazing Deals: Invisible Shoes

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If you are a running enthusiast you’re going to love today’s Brad Feld’s Amazing Deal. Today’s deal takes the barefoot running phenomena to its logical conclusion. Invisible Shoes, created by two former lead designers from Nike and Reebok, are the closest you will ever get to feeling barefoot, even if you aren’t. They’re perfect for running or walking or yoga. Did I mention that you put them together yourself for the perfect fit? Awesomely loving the DIY world.

At $16 (normally up to $35) these are definitely worth a look.

Zeitgeist Half Marathon in Boise, Idaho

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I love America.

I ran the Zeitgeist half marathon yesterday in Boise, Idaho with my friends Pam Solon and Mark Solon (Pam kicked our asses). It was a cold and icy morning with a beautiful blue sky. The course is hilly – a long two mile hile at mile 2 and then a one mile hile at mile 8. But following each hill was a corresponding downhill so that evened things out.

The most awesome thing about a half marathon is at 13 miles you only have 0.1 mile left, not 13.2 miles. While I knew this, I didn’t really appreciate it until I hit the 13 mile marker and could see the finish line. Even though I finished in 2:21:03, I did the last three miles all sub 9:00 (8:44, 8:38, 8:56).

Boise was a blast. I’ve been here once before and stayed with the Solon’s that time as well. They’ve become great friends – I’ve done a few investments with Mark, but I just love hanging out with them. Their kids are turning into interesting little people, they are awesome hosts, and they are great people.

On Friday night I did a Beers with Brad event at The Watercooler. About 75 local entrepreneurs showed up and we spent two hours talking about entrepreneurship, Boise, and how to create long term, sustainable entrepreneurial communities. We also had pizza and beer, which was a good warmup for a great pre-run Italian meal at Asiago’s.

A good night sleep, followed by coffee, a quart of Mark’s amazing blueberry peanut butter smoothie, followed by a dump, or two, and then a half marathon. Note to self, don’t drink a quart of smoothie before a race unless you want to have to stop twice on the course to pee.

The race was beautiful. A half marathon is a long training run for me at this point, but there’s always a notch of additional energy around a race. I ran naked (no music) – just enjoyed Boise, the scenery, the people, and the funny conversions I heard at the back of the pack (e.g. “don’t tell Jim and Scott I’m also sleeping with Mike – he’s really good in bed, but I don’t want them to know.”)

We did the normal post race “eat a bunch of food” thing at Smokey Mountain Pizza. We eschewed naps and watched a Will Ferrell movie instead. Our goal was hilarity – we had a total fail as Mark picked Everything Must Go. Not bad, not good, but not funny.

A quick hangout followed at friends house and then dinner at Highlands Hollow Brewhouse. Yes – the fries were awesome and they even had a bunch of veggie things.

The line of the weekend was when Pam, who has just started using Twitter and Facebook again after a hiatus, said “I need more friends.” Feel free to help her out.

The only thing missing was Amy.

Running America

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Over the weekend I read Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America written by Marshall Ulrich. Ulrich is one of the most amazing ultra-distance runners in the history of man and turns out to be a great story teller as well. I founding his book to be riveting and subsequently downloaded the movie about the run across America that he did called Running America 08.

The movie was dynamite. The run across America took place between September 2008 and finished (coincidentally) on November 4th, 2008. There were three stories woven together in the movie: (1) Marshall’s success effort to run across America, (2) Charlie Engle’s unsuccessful effort, and (3) a backdrop of interviews with American’s all across the country during the time of the run.

In Marshall’s book, there was plenty of discussion about the original partnership between Marshall and Charlie which led to the join effort to run across America in world record time. However, Charlie stopped a third of the way through due to injuries and some drama ensued, which wasn’t covered in the movie but was reasonably well explained in the book. All of this just added to the remarkable feat of accomplishment by Marshall Ulrich.

I’ve been running a lot in Europe this summer and am starting to feel another level of base building. My friend, and CEO of SendGrid Jim Franklin did the Leadville 100 this weekend and another friend just asked if I want to do a 50 miler with her in the spring of 2012. I’m also thinking about spending a month running the Colorado Trail next summer. First up however are four marathons in September and October.

I love running and reading about amazing running accomplishments. It’s even more inspiring to realize that I’m not washed up at 45 as many of the great ultra-runners are cranking well into their 50′s and 60′s.

Civility in Debate with Mountain Bikes In Boulder

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I’m opposed to opening up Eldorado Canyon Trail to Mountain Bikes. However, when I read the article titled “Boulder open space official: Return to civility in West TSA mountain bike debate” I was infuriated by the tone of some of the people opposed to mountain bikes on these trails.

My partner Seth Levine is a huge mountain biker. He and I had a thoughtful exchange about the issue of MTBs on the Eldorado Canyon Trail. We disagree on this issue but it was a substantive exchange. As a long distance runner, I explained that while most MTBs were good actors, a small percentage weren’t. Even on reasonably well shared trails, I’ve been run off the road numerous times by MTBs careening around a blind corner on a downhill or when someone somewhat out of control flies by me. Single tracks are tough to share and I spent much of my time on them paying attention to traffic if I run mid-day, but I’ve had this problem on all shared trails. Worst of all, I’ve been hit several times by MTBs and I can only think of one case where the person stopped and checked to see if I was ok (I was, but pretty sore the next day.) Seth and I ended our discussion with agreement that we’d go hike Eldorado Canyon Trail together and discuss this further, which will be fun regardless of whether we end up agreeing on a position on the issue.

In general, I’m very comfortable with trails being shared. Over time, I’ve learned how to anticipate when to pay more attention to MTBs and often just run off trail when I can (on the side of the trail, which of course is not what the Open Space people want but it’s safer for everyone.) But I still really struggle on single tracks, or tight trails, especially when one side is mountain and the other side is a steep drop. Having run Eldorado Canyon Trail about a hundred times, it’d be a really rough trail if it became mixed use, and I’m pretty sure I’d stop running it. That’s part of why I’m opposed to MTBs on the trail – I just don’t think it’ll work.

However, when I read the article in the Daily Camera today, the folks arguing against MTBs represent the kind of hostility in debate that undermines their entire position. Their attacks are emotional bordering on hysterical (in the “not funny definition of the word”) and excessively polarizing. It’s not dissimilar to the type of language we often see at a national political level in the extreme partisan case and I find it incredibly distasteful.

The other day I had a difficult meeting with someone who was upset with me and a decision I had made. While we were having the discussion, he referred to the meeting we were having as “date rape.” I was momentarily furious because the comment was completely over the line. I understood that he felt fucked by me and – while I didn’t agree – he was certainly entitled to his opinion. But accusing me of date rape was unacceptable to me, especially given that I’ve had first hand experience on the receiving end of rape. He backed off when I asked if he was sure he wanted to use this language (and if he had said yes, we would have been done talking), but it undermined his argument to me based on the personal attack that I didn’t think corresponded in any way to what was happening.

The vitriolic in the MTB debate has a similar impact on me. It doesn’t help the discussion, undermines the position opposing MTB’s on Eldorado Canyon Trail, and is generally offensive to anyone trying to understand and think through the issue. It also shines a bad light on the community in Boulder which I think is a special place that embraces incredibly diverse people, perspectives, and behaviors. And it creates emotional justification for the small number of bad actors in the MTB for their behavior (e.g. “they don’t want us on their trails so fuck them.”)

Boulder, you can do a lot better than this. Let’s have a real debate about this issue and make a rational decision about whether or not to open up these trails.

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